Monday, January 13, 2014

Spinach & Mushroom Eggs (Another New Year, Another New Diet)

So I wasn't exactly "back" when I though I would be.  I will explain more in my next post, otherwise this will get so long no one will want to read it all anyway!  Here I am, it is January 13, 2014.  I am older, heavier, but wiser.  I am going back to the gym again now that my energy level is better.  I've invested in a Daylight for Seasonal Affective Disorder - when used every morning they do help.  I am tracking what I eat, and how much water I drink - thanks to the online tracking tools at my gym I feel a bit more motivated.

Because I am not the only one trying to eat healthier and get back into better shape again I will add the nutritional values to the new recipes I add, if available.  I am not a nutritionist by any means, but I will try to calculate based on the food labels of the products used.

This morning I started my day with a cup of coffee with nonfat creamer, 6 dried apricots and 1/4 cup of fresh blueberries.  So far, so good.  Then I went to the gym for about an hour.  Then I came home, ravenous.  The unfair part about weight-loss is the misconception of a "healthy diet" according to the U.S. FDA's guidelines.  The typical healthy diet, according to them, is about 2,000 calories.  HA!  Not for me.  I am not a young man with the metabolism of a jackrabbit.  I am a 40 year old woman, and my caloric intake should be more like 1200-1400 calories per day.  Since I went back to school, I spend more time in front of a computer than chasing little children all day like I did when I was younger.  But I still get hungry, now I just can't eat everything in sight.  Like I used to.  My mother once joked that I ate one meal per day, it began when I woke up and ended when I went to sleep.  That was the 110-pound eighteen-year old me.  Fifty pounds later, I dream of having the energy I did back then.  Now I have less than half the energy and can eat only about a quarter of what I used to unless I want to turn into that woman who can't leave her house because she can't fit out of the doorway.

Alright, I exaggerated.  I am not that heavy.  And friends of mine who are actually more overweight than I am will say I make them sick because I am not fat.  Like them.  That's what they say, anyway.  But I still remember what it's like to be able to go into any store and grab anything in a size 4 and buy it without having to try it on because I know it will fit.  That was only about six years ago.  Before knee surgery, and before my life came crashing down around my ears.  It sure happened quick.  At any rate, I have lost three pounds in the last week and plan on getting back to the 125-pound me of six years ago.  For me that is a healthy weight, one that I feel great at.  In all my goal is to lose 35 pounds by June, and keep it off.

Because I've noticed that a lot of the things I tend to snack on are high-fat and high carbohydrate items, I stocked up on fresh fruit and veggies and eggs.  The apples and dried apricots still contain carbs, but we do still need some of those in our diets.  Now I am trying to be sure the sources of carbs in my diet come from whole grains and fruits, rather than breads, pasta and things that are made with bleached white flour.  In my mind the concept is simple:  the more processed, the worse it is for you.  I used to work at a wellness company, and some of the things I learned there about what and when you eat really do make a difference.  The hardest part it just sticking to it.

Start the day with protein, rather than fat.  Your body will store fat if you start with that, because you are breaking a fast (breakfast, get it?).  If you begin the day with protein, and reduce the amount of fat intake, it follows that you will be putting protein to use rather than storing fat.  And sugar?  If you don't burn it off right away, your body converts that to fat to store for later use.  In the U.S. today, the vast majority of people don't really worry about where their next meal will come from, much less have to do strenuous physical work like climbing trees or chasing game in order to get it.  So where our bodies are storing fat, it doesn't get burned up later, it just keeps accumulating.

As I mentioned, when I came home from the gym this morning I was SUPER hungry!  In order to get some more protein into my diet, I wanted eggs for breakfast.  I could, in all perfect worlds, eat eggs for any meal.  When we go out for dinner, if eggs are on the menu I will order them with hashbrowns onions and cheese, with steak or as Eggs Benedict.  I like them in omelettes or in quiche.  One of my favorite ways is simply hard boiled with a dash of salt and pepper.  But most of the ways I like to eat them are simply not good for me.  I could go on and on.  But today I decided that I would go the healthy route.  Since I was so hungry I used three eggs and three mushrooms, but you could do two of each just as easily.

Three ounces fresh mushrooms (these are mid-sized, about 1-1/2" to 2" across, I weighed them out and three ounces is an "official" serving size).
When choosing mushrooms, look for closed caps.  Mushrooms should not be slimy.  These were rinsed, because some dirt was still attached - which is why they look wet.  You generally don't have to wash mushrooms, and if you really want another kitchen gadget, mushroom brushes are available.    
Saute these in a pan over high heat with a drizzle of olive oil - then sprinkle with garlic powder and onion salt.

Reduce heat to medium.
Add three eggs, mixed, to the pan.  Stir with spatula until partially cooked.

Add two cups of fresh baby spinach.  From the photo above, you might think this is too much spinach, but since it's a leafy vegetable, it's going to cook down some.  Stir to combine, being sure that the spinach does not over-cook.  I turn off the heat just after it wilts and everything is nice and hot.  That heat will be enough to melt the finely-grated mozzarella.

Sprinkle immediately with 1/4 cup finely grated part-skim mozzarella cheese and black pepper (and a dash of grated Parmesan if you'd like).

Prep & Cook time:  about 10 minutes altogether, maybe less

Approximate nutritional value:

3 large eggs 210 15 0 18 0
2 cups spinach 20 0 3 2 2
3 mushrooms 20 0 3 3 0
1/4 cup part-skim mozarrella cheese 70 5 1 7 0
Totals: 320 cal. 20g fat 7g carbs 30g protein 2g fiber

I did not include the value for the olive oil, because I only used a tiny bit.  I love the ceramic pans - no oil needed!

I ate this at 8:45am or so.  It's now 1:14 and I am just starting to feel like it's lunch time, so I'd say that's not too bad for breakfast.  My fat intake target is no more than 49 grams, so I wanted to have my higher-fat meal in the morning rather than later on in the day when I'm not tending to be as active.

2 cups of fresh spinach contains 160% of the requirement for Vitamin A in a 2,000 calorie diet, 40% of your Vitamin C, 8% calcium & 15% iron.  Spinach is so underrated!

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